Open and Affirming!

Open and Affirming!

All are welcome!

First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
40 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
Phone: 973-744-4856

Monday, June 28, 2010

Put My Tears in Your Bottle

United Church of Christ logo.Image via Wikipedia

Excerpt from Psalm 56

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.”

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver
There is an ancient Jewish proverb:  “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.”

There is some catharsis in shedding tears.  And tears that are never shed do not go away.  They become something else—bitterness, depression, hardness of heart, increased grief.  So God invites our tears.

But more, the author of this psalm pleads with God, “Put my tears in your bottle.”  Imagine!  God has a bottle for our tears!

It was an ancient Jewish practice for mourners to have a small bottle in which they could collect their tears.  The top would allow those tears to evaporate over time, and when the bottle was completely dry, the time of grieving was considered over.

So the psalmist asks God, “Put my tears in your bottle.”  We don’t need to keep our sorrow and our tears in the tight little bottle within us where they are usually kept, burning and vengeful, because God has a bottle for our tears.

It must be a bottle as big as the ocean because in it are the psalmist’s tears, a prophet’s tears over injustice, Jesus’ tears over the death of his friend Lazarus, tears of parents whose children have died in war, widows’ tears, toddlers’ tears, spurned lovers’ tears, your tears and mine, mingling with the tears of countless others from countless sorrows.

When we come to God with our grief, God does not pat us on the head and offer a condescending, “Now, now…”  Rather, God receives our tears like an offering and holds them, as if in a bottle, honoring our grief and sharing it.

God, thank you for honoring my grief enough to hold it and to share it. Amen.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. His new book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored with Lillian Daniel, has just been published.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

June 27, 2010

This Sunday we begin our summer "share the sermon" series as we explore the passing of leadership from the prophet Elijah to his "understudy", Elisha. Following God's lead in difficult times requires more than just what we bring to the job -- it requires a "double portion" of the Spirit and a willingness to step into leadership with courage and faith. With gratitude for the wonderful comments, questions and insights she received from the congregation, Rev. Ann will preach a sermon based on 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 called "Pick Up the Mantle."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Parenting Circle

Dear Parents,

Just a reminder that our Parenting Circle small group will be meeting this Wednesday, June 23, at 8pm at my home.  We will be reading the first two chapters of the book "Blessings of A Skinned Knee" by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D.  Please let me know if you would like copies of those two chapters, I have them at church.  The book is available in most bookstores and online.

Parents and caregivers of children of all ages are welcome to be a part of this supportive circle.  You are welcome to bring something to snack on and to drink.  Hope to see you then! For additional information, email


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Special Collection for the Youth Mission Trip!

During this Sunday's offertory we will be taking up a special collection to support Lauren Marden and Maya Potter as they join the youth from Union Congregational Church on their mission trip to South Dakota . Please be generous!

This Sunday at First Congregational Church!

This Sunday we stand at the mouth of the cave with Elijah, straining for a sign of God's presence. Like that beleaguered prophet, we tend to look for God in the obvious -- in the wind or the fire or the earthquake, the "big" events in our lives -- and often don't recognize God in the silence, the still small voice. In a sermon entitled "Holy Silence" Rev. Ann will explore this experience based on the scripture text 1 Kings 19:1-4,8-15a.

We will also be celebrating a milestone in the life of our church school children as those entering grade 4 and higher will receive their bibles. This will be the last Sunday of the church school year and we give thanks to Joan and all her parent helpers for all the loving care and wonderful guidance they give to our young people!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family Bible Workshop Saturday June 19!

Family Bible Workshop Saturday June 19 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. For children entering 4th grade or higher and their parents. Explore our faith's most special book in a fun and interactive way. We will be preparing our children to receive bibles during worship on Sunday 20 June.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bible Study each Sunday morning!

Each Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Library, we will be discussing the lectionary texts for the week coming from the Book of Kings. All are welcome!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Open and Affirming! All are Welcome at FCC Montclair! by Mark@fb

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Event photographer?

Our church is looking for members to photograph the many events that take place at First Congregational Church, Montclair. We are very interested in photos of people at these events, we are hoping to capture the excitement and spirit of what FCC Montclair is all about. Some of the possibilities are Fellowship coffee hour,  Jesus has Left the Building, Gay Pride Parade, 4th of July Parade, good works, etc.  If you are interested (you do not need to be a professional, just willing to takes LOTS of photos) please contact Thanks!
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Going Out and Coming In

Excerpt from Psalm 121

"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore."

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

June is a big month for big transitions. People graduate from high school, college and grad school. Couples are married. Congregations mark confirmations. People and families set out, moving from one home to a new one. In this Psalm, a song for pilgrims on the journey to Jerusalem, God promises to be present in a special way in the transitions, the times of "going out and coming in."

Transitions can be precarious. They are filled with hope and grief, apprehension and anticipation. About this time last year, we were preparing for the wedding of one of our three children, the first of our kids to get married. I was thrilled and I was grieving. I was proud and I was perplexed. Probably everyone who was most involved was in some middle zone between a going out and a coming in. Something had ended but we hadn’t quite arrived at the new place. In between was a jumble.

We often want to get through the in-between times as quickly as possible. That’s understandable but maybe unwise. We need the spaces between, strange and confusing as they may be. Maybe that’s why the Psalm assures us that God is especially present in those times between, between the going out and the coming in. God works with us in a special way in the times between to guide us, to teach us, to lead us.

Be near, we pray, to those who now are in between. Watch over those who are going out and those who are coming in, and especially watch over those who are in the space between. Amen.
About the Author
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His most recent book is Changing the Conversation: A Third Way for Congregations. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at by clicking on Weekly Reading.
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